Ancient Egyptian Tombs

Ancient Egyptians believed that as well as your life on Earth, you also had another life in the afterlife when you died.

To protect their bodies, ancient Egyptians build tombs to bury their dead in. These tombs were either huge pyramids or hidden tombs in different locations.


In the early times of ancient Egypt known as the Old Kingdom, pharaohs were buried in pyramids. The pyramids were designed very carefully by skilled architects and were built to be in line with certain constellations or the sunrise on a set day.

They were either built to look like steps on the outside or were flat, like a pyramid shape. They were also placed next to the Nile River so that stone building blocks could be easily transported to the pyramid. The first pyramid was built 5,000 years ago!

Most pyramids were huge and could be seen from miles away. They had many rooms for storage, bedrooms, courtyard and relaxation areas so that the soul of the person could relax in style after they died.

These rooms were beautifully decorated with scenes from the dead person’s life and were regularly loaded with statues and expensive items.

However, pyramids were not used throughout the whole of the time of ancient Egypt. They took years to build and cost a lot of money compared to a normal tomb.

They were also very easy for grave robbers to spot and robbers often tried to break in. Builders therefore added secret passages and traps into the pyramid to protect the dead, but often the robbers were successful! People instead started building hidden tombs for their dead.

Hidden Tombs

During the Middle Kingdom and the New Kingdom (the middle and end stages of ancient Egypt), tombs were built to be hidden from sight.

Initially they were built all over Egypt but later pharaohs were buried in the same area, known as the Valley of the Kings. This made building tombs cheaper and quicker, and they were less likely to be robbed.

Families regularly visited their family tomb to give gifts to the souls of the dead.

They would give statues they had made of family and friends out of clay to keep the soul company, as well as statues of workers to do the house chores. The ancient Egyptians believed that even mummies needed sleep, so it was important to have helpers in your tomb!

To reach the afterlife, ancient Egyptians needed to do good deeds in life. They wrote tales of their lives on the tomb walls and drew pictures about the good they had done to remind the gods that they were good people and deserved to get to the afterlife.

Facts about Ancient Egyptian Tombs

  • In the Old Kingdom, pharaohs were buried in pyramids.
  • Pyramids were built to line up with constellations or the sunrise.
  • Pyramids contained many different rooms for the soul to enjoy after death.
  • Pyramids were very expensive and took a long time to build, so grew out of fashion.
  • Hidden tombs were used to stop grave robbers stealing goods from the dead.
  • In the Middle Kingdom, hidden tombs were built all over Egypt.
  • In the New Kingdom, hidden tombs were built in the Valley of the Kings.
  • Families regularly gave gifts to the dead to keep them company in the afterlife.
  • Tomb walls were decorated with stories and pictures of the good deeds of the dead.


  • What were pyramids built like?
    They were either stepped on the outside or flat and many rooms for the soul to live in. They also had traps to prevent robbers stealing the goods.
  • Why did pyramids go out of fashion?
    They were too expensive and took too long to build. Robbers could also easily see them and so know where lot of expensive goods were.
  • Why were hidden tombs used?
    They stopped robbers easily knowing where wealthy people were buried.
  • What did families give to the dead as gifts?
    Statues of friends, family and workers to keep them company and help with chores.